Things that exist nowhere

World 3 is the world of the products of the human mind. These products, in the course of evolution, were first probably encoded only in the human brain and even there only in a fleeting way. That is to say, if an early man told a story of a hunt, or something like that, then the story would be both encoded in his brain and in the brains of his listeners, but it would soon be forgotten and in a sense disappear. The more characteristic objects of World 3 are objects which are more lasting. They are, for example, early works of art, cave paintings, decorated instruments, decorated tools, boats, and similar World 1 objects. At that stage there is perhaps not yet a need to postulate a separate World 3. The need arises, however, when it comes to such things as works of literature, theories, problems, and, most clearly of all, such things as, for example, musical compositions. A musical composition has a very strange sort of existence. Certainly it at first exists encoded in the musican’s head, but it will probably not even exist there as a totality, but, rather, as a sequence of efforts or attempts; and whether the composer does or does not retain a total score of the composition in his memory is in a sense not really essential to the question of the existence of the composition once it has been written down. But the written-down encoding is not identical with the composition – say, a symphony. For the symphony is something acoustic and the written-down encoding is obviously merely conventionally and arbitrarily related to the acoustic ideas which this written-down encoding tries to incorporate and to bring into a more stable and lasting form. So here there already arises a problem. Let us pose the problem in the following way. Clearly, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony is neither the score he wrote, which is only a kind of conventional and arbitrarily coded statement of the symphony; nor is it the sum total of the imagined acoustic experiences Mozart had while writing the symphony. Nor is it any of the performances. Nor is it all performances together, nor the class of all possible performances. This is seen from the fact that performances may be good or less good, but that no performance can really be described as ideal. … In that sense the World 3 object is a real ideal object which exists, but exists nowhere, and whose existence is somehow the potentiality of its being reinterpreted by human minds. [449-50]

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